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Roden 1/48 scale Beechcraft UC-43 Staggerwing

This model kit goes together easily with only minor cleanup of flash and mold seams.

Kit:No. 442 // Scale:1/48 // Price:$52.99
Roden, from Squadron Mail Order, 877-414-0434
Good parts fit; nice scheme and marking choices; good decals
Nice-looking but difficult-to-assemble landing gear; poor propeller logo decals; cowl/engine alignment problems
Injection-molded, 72 parts, decals
You don’t have to be an aviation expert to quickly identify a Beechcraft Staggerwing, one of the most distinctive designs in history.

Roden’s new Staggerwing is a welcome and well-done model kit. The box art shows an Army Air Force Staggerwing landing at Sycamore Airport near Fort Worth, Texas. Three profiles on the side of the box show the aircraft with markings provided in the kit.

In the box are gray plastic sprues, a sprue of clear parts, and a seven-color decal sheet. Some parts show minor flash and mold seam lines. Panel lines are recessed.

Clear parts include the windshield, cabin windows, and landing-light lenses that are appropriately thin, quite clear, and distortion-free. The decal sheet includes 30 images. I chose the markings of a Stagger-wing assigned to U.S. air attachés at the American Embassy in London, 1939.

The decals appear to be in register, but I substituted propeller logo decals from my stash for the kit logos, which were indefinite and lacking detail.

The eight-page instruction booklet contains a history of the aircraft in Ukrainian, English, and German. Along with 20 steps of general assembly there are decal directions, aircraft specifications, a symbols key, a parts map, three-view drawings for color and markings, and a color key for Testors Model Master paints.

The kit goes together easily with only minor cleanup of flash and mold seams. I was not able to make the engine go together as shown in the plans, though, because of the locating pins on the cylinder halves. My engine fits into the cowl about 5 degrees off-center. Roden makes no effort to replicate the Pratt & Whitney cloisonné enamel emblem, which should be located on a vertical line between the two bottom cylinders. Because the cowl air intakes are located dead-center bottom, a cylinder should locate between them. That’s not the case, and Step 17 of the instructions clearly shows there is no leeway in mounting the cylinders in the cowl and in mounting the cowl to the nose of the airframe. Not shown are the cutouts inside the trailing edge of the cowl that fit the nose extensions.

For rigging, I used ceramic Wonder Wire from Precision Enterprises. The main landing gear struts were difficult to install and align; mine ended up a little bowlegged.

The windshield was a tight fit; I had to sand the upper edge. The cabin door required sanding of the upper and aft edges to fit.

The completed model is about 7 scale inches long, but I do not know if the propeller was included in the full-scale measurements. The wingspan of the model is 3 scale inches too wide. Close enough, I would say.

The wings, horizontal stabilizers, vertical fin, and windshield frames seem to have scale thickness; the landing gear doors could have been made a little thinner (or replaced with scratchbuilt doors made from sheet styrene).

I completed assembly in less than 20 hours; the Testors Model Master paint took longer than that to dry. The decals floated easily from the backing paper and, once in position, stuck fiercely. Solvaset helped wrap the rudder decal around the pushrod.

I really like the model this kit produces. If Roden does more kits like this, I’ll be there!


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